Man of Steel (2013)

Aquaman in Man of Steel

Stan Lee cameos and Easter eggs that are actually visible to the eye are old hat as comic book movie conventions. The hot new thing is apparently to have an unseen cameo from a notable superhero. This trend may include the slight references to the existence of offscreen characters, like the acknowledgement of Black Panther in Iron Man 3, Stephen Strange (aka Dr. Strange) in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Adam Warlock in Thor: The Dark World and Guardians of the Galaxy, but now it’s starting to be bigger than those inconsequential fan-service winks. Characters are showing up in and adding to the action of major comic book movie plots without actually being visible in the frame or named in any way whatsoever. So far, we’ve already gotten Frank Castle, aka The Punisher, in the Captain America sequel and Aquaman in Man of Steel. Don’t recall seeing either? Exactly. They weren’t technically in those movies, but in a way they also sort of were. More so for The Punisher, if that’s in fact who is alluded to in a recent interview at ComingSoon.net with Winter Soldier co-director Joe Russo. He points out that when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is on the run from HYDRA agents driving DCPD cars, a yellow Penske truck helps out by slamming into a couple of those undercover baddies, and then later a Penske truck is also involved in the death of a certain character. “The man who drives that truck is very highly trained,” Russo said, hinting that it’s also a […]

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Batmobile in Batman vs Superman

The movies of director Zack Snyder are about as polarizing as any studio filmmaker’s, so when he tweeted out a picture of the new Batmobile from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, we can assume he was prepared for some criticism. Fans complained about a particular aspect of the vehicle that does not conform to the version seen in the comics: the guns. This new Batmobile is front-loaded with weapons that would not look out of place in an American military vehicle. It’s a concerning decision, especially since Batman’s code of ethics precludes him from intentionally killing people. But the real problem is that it shows how little Snyder has learned from the mistakes of Man of Steel. We all remember the outcry from fans when Snyder had Superman kill General Zod in that movie’s climax, and it appears that Snyder is doubling down on the violence, despite that criticism. But it is unfair to lay all this at Snyder’s feet. There has been an increasing militarization of our superheroes afoot for decades, and Snyder is only continuing that tradition. In the Marvel world, superheroes perpetually exist in a military milieu. Tony Stark is a reformed defense contractor, while The Avengers was essentially about a Special Forces unit that prevented another 9/11.

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Into the Storm 06

Technically I have been in a tornado. But it was a teeny one in Connecticut, caused no real damage, that I know of, and was from my vantage point not a well-formed funnel shape. If it hadn’t been for a news report stating that a tornado went through where I had been driving, I would have just thought it was a freak storm that came suddenly out of nowhere, passed really quickly and was dangerous enough to make me pull over and strong enough to make a passing bicyclist jump into my backseat for temporary emergency shelter. I would never consider myself a tornado survivor, because that would be an insult to people in the Midwest who’ve encountered the real deal. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be in such a disaster, as there’s something more terrifyingly visual about tornadoes than hurricanes and blizzards and other major storms I’ve been through. The shape of a tornado allows it to be a sort of villainous presence in cinema, and I assume it’s the same in real life. But there I go making assumptions based on what I’ve seen in the movies again. I like to believe that a special effects driven disaster movie like Into the Storm (pictured above) goes for some level of authenticity in its depiction of tornadoes, but while watching it this week my mind wandered to all the representations of tornadoes in cinema through the years, and I realized that tornadoes in the movies tend to be pretty ridiculous — […]

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batman-v-superman-logo

Bad titles aren’t a big deal. You can have a bad title and still be a great movie. Just look at Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Or The Shawshank Redemption, which appears on as many lists of the worst titles of all time as lists of the greatest movies of all time. Typically, though, a bad title is assigned to a bad movie. It’s not really a coincidence, either, as a bad title is a good sign of a bad production overall. It’s a first impression of a total failure on all creative levels. So, when we see a title like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, there’s good reason to think there’s trouble brewing with that movie. It’s not just worthy of snark and parody (although I am proud of my “Dawn of Buford T. Justice” gag). Titles of franchise installments have been getting out of hand for years, and it’s always fun to ridicule something that’s basically a double colon title (Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life) or a name that doesn’t really make a lot of sense (Quantum of Solace and Star Trek Into Darkness). But this latest offender isn’t just bad. It’s a representation of all that’s wrong with comic book movies right now.

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Captain America 2

What is the most basic difference between a movie like Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel? The way my mind works, I have long considered Steve Rogers and Kal-El to be similarly positioned in their own respective universes. Both are stronger than regular men, both were dressed with America in mind and both are leaders of their own superhero groups (The Avengers and The Justice League, respectively). So why is it that one hero got a movie last year that was shrugged off as “not as good as it should have been” while the other appeared this past weekend in a film that’s a potential game-changer for the genre? It’s simple: it’s all in the approach. One wanted to be a superhero movie, the other did not.

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MAN OF STEEL

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Gal Gadot

Fast & Furious actress Gal Gadot is already nailing down the boldness she’ll be expected to impart in her role as Wonder Woman in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel sequel, as she’s straight up dropping big info on her role as the iconic Amazonian; at least so far as cash and contracts are concerned. Via Batman-News, in a story reported on Good Evening With Gai Pines, a show in Gadot’s native Israel, we learn that Warner Bros will be ponying up $300,000 for her first appearance alongside Henry Cavill’s Superman and Ben Affleck’s Batman. What’s more, we get a solid starting date for filming, with Gadot saying the Man of Steel sequel gets rolling in May of this year. As noted previously by Variety, the film’s release date has been pushed to May 6, 2016.

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2013 reject awards

Another year, another creeping sense of dissatisfaction with the standard awards program. Sure it’s important to celebrate the best of the best of the best in the usual categories, but it all becomes a bit stale when the Oscars will be the dozenth major body to denote a best actor or cinematographer or score. Instead, we offer this alternative: a look at the strongest work of the movie year through the lens of odd trends and pure randomness. To wit, a header image that features our task-master-in-chief Neil Miller wondering if he forgot to send out invitations to the gala (he didn’t). We’re repeating an award from last year because you demanded it, but 2013 gave us enough weird and wonderfulness to fill up a whole new ballot otherwise. Please feel free to make up your own awards in the comments section.

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2013review_trailers

What were the best trailers of the year trying to sell? Movies and moods and ideas and awards and stars and sexiness and just a lot of great music. And maybe, just maybe, something more (read: more movie tickets). Not every great trailer advertises a great film, but sometimes even the most lackluster productions can gift movie fans with two minutes of cinematic glory (all the better if said trailer can include Kanye West screaming or Nicole Kidman redefining “cold” or even the glories of street dancing) worth lauding all on their own. This year saw a vast batch of standout trailers, and while our listing of best trailers of the year is nothing if not varied, all of the videos contained within share one key element – they effectively conveyed tone and feeling without revealing too much about plot and characters. As mini mood pieces, these thirteen trailers nailed it, as bits of marketing, they made us want to buy and buy big time.  What were the best trailers of the year trying to sell? Oh, it doesn’t matter – we were ready to buy.

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2013review_scifi

This year promised a number of great original science fiction movies from Hollywood, and then it turned out most of them weren’t even good let alone great — the sort that left us with way too many unanswered questions regarding their plot holes. Meanwhile, in the fantasy genre, we continued to see the studios churning out one YA adaptation after another in the hopes of it being the next Hunger Games (or still the next Harry Potter or Twilight or even Star Wars in the case of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones) and ironically having no clue how to find the *magic* in the appeal of these kinds of stories. And of course there’s the ever-growing subgenre of superhero movies, which really only disappointed this year because they arrived in the wake of 2012’s The Avengers, not simply because most of the output was sequels (Iron Man 3; Thor: The Dark World; The Wolverine) that were merely okay rather than totally awesome. As I’ve noted in the past, I don’t consider Gravity to be sci-fi (even after learning that some tech in the film doesn’t exist yet), but I’ll let it be known that if I were to qualify the outer space thriller, I’d put it in the number 6 slot on account of its gripping visual storytelling and little else. As for another popular choice (one that made a few FSR staffer’s best of lists, as well as our democratically voted top 10), Pacific Rim might have made this […]

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Shazam

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Pacific Rim

One of the top-ten highest-grossing movies of 2013 will be nominated for Best Picture, and that’s something that didn’t happen in the past two years. The same movie, Gravity, will very likely be the sixth in a row to win the Oscar for Best Visual Effects to also be a Best Picture nominee. If it wins the top award, it will be the first to win both those honors since The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.  I know a lot of people consider Gravity to be a science-fiction film, while I don’t quite qualify it as such. So I merely see it as the closest thing to a genre movie contending for Best Picture this year rather than a true representative. It’s more The Right Stuff than Star Wars. Wasn’t the allowance for more Best Picture nominees intended to accommodate those more popular choices? The first year the Academy returned it to a ten-title category was 2009, and then we saw Avatar and District 9 plus Up, the first animated feature to get a slot since 1991. The next year we had another animated feature in the bunch, Toy Story 3, as well as the sci-fi film Inception. In 2011, Hugo nearly counted as a fantasy picture while Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris was a kind of time travel film, but they stretched the definitions of genre film. Last year, the same went for the fantastically dipped Life of Pi and Beasts of the Southern Wild. […]

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2013.trailermashups

Trailer mashups are a beautiful diversion. On the surface they’re frivolous, but they also manage to re-contextualize the familiar and shine a blinding bulb on thematic similarities. You might get fired for watching them all day (come on, Mr. Danforth!), but there’s a deep power in connecting two seemingly incongruous films or accentuating the copycat nature of tentpoles. There’s a wacky romance to be found in Gravity, a steampunk spectacle in an animated world, adorable Pixar revenge and much more to be discovered. If you watch all of this year’s best, you’ll be overwhelmed with the patterns — not just in the plotting, but also in trailer construction. There’s a bit less Brrrrrwwaaaaaaam this time around, but the hero’s journey is still thriving alongside the explosions. You’ll also notice that pretty much no one makes trailers for Stories We Tell or 12 Years a Slave. Blockbusters are the key targets, and mixing them up with animation and nostalgia seems to be more popular than ever. Oh, and Wall-E. Trailer mashup artists love that damned thing. We like to have fun with trailers here at FSR. Even if we over-think them, hopefully you’ll find something to ponder with our favorites of 2013. Or maybe you’ll just laugh a lot before Mr. Danforth fires you. The guy is ruthless. I think his marriage is on the rocks or something. At any rate, and without further ado: Brrrrrwwaaaaaaam.

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goodfellastable

This week’s list of movies to watch is not inspired by a single new release, because there isn’t anything big enough out this weekend to warrant such a focus. Instead, I’ve got a year-end feature for you inspired by the entirety of 2013 in film. I can’t sum up every title released this year with only ten recommendations, but the movies I’ve selected are, I believe, the best representatives of the more notable titles and trends seen in the past dozen months. Most of the selections are familiar. Chances are you’ve seen more than a few. But obviously this edition has to involve more popular fare because they have to be influential movies to have informed so much of this year’s crop, even if unintentionally. Just take it as a call to watch them again, along with whatever you haven’t seen before, as a special sort of year in review of the most important movies of 2013 released before 2013.

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superman-the-movie-1978-marlon-brando-as-jor-el-sentences-general-zod-non-and-ursa

It’s only a coincidence that I’m writing this on the day Man of Steel hits home video, and it has nothing to do with the approaching 35th anniversary of Superman: The Movie. Rather, it’s something I’ve been wondering during the discussions of the latest Marvel movie post-credits “stingers.” Thor: The Dark World finishes with three separate teases. The first (not a stinger) comes before the credits and hints at something that will presumably be dealt with in Thor 3. The next comes midway into the credits and introduces a character and teases plot that is part of the larger Marvel/Avengers franchise storyline. And the third is just a funny post-credits scene that I expect to be the vaguely reported link between the film and an upcoming Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode. Personally, I have no problem with these or any stingers. The midway scene in Thor 2 is pretty goofy, though, and has been met with the usual confusion that, hopefully for Marvel’s sake, translates into curiosity instead of annoyance. And perhaps the way they’re done is a little tired, so maybe it is time to try something different. Like a prologue stinger. I don’t know if that phrase makes sense (I’m not totally sure of where the term stinger comes from), but here’s what I mean: set up the next film before the latest even begins. For the one and only example, as far as I know, look to the opening of the first Superman, which features the trial of […]

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Man of Steel

When I was a kid, we went on a lot of road trips. When I say a lot, I mean a lot. Summers usually meant that we were gone nearly every weekend in the travel trailer my dad hauled behind his suburban, off for a new campground somewhere in Texas. He even drove that thing to Orlando one year, taking my mother, brother and me to DisneyWorld, staying at Disney’s rustic Fort Wilderness. Great trip, but that is a long trip from the DFW Metroplex. This was the day and age before iPods, iPads, and Kindles, so I usually relegated myself to the way, way back with a stack of comic books, or a science fiction novel. Thankfully, my mom encouraged my reading, and a trip meant that she would pick up a book for me (or sometimes, even let me pick one) from the spinner racks at the grocery store checkout. Speaking of those, do they even exist anymore? These days you never see books for sale at the checkout, and if you do, chances are it’s a Harlequin romance. Blurgh. At one point, my mom picked up a novelization of a movie for me, giving me a chance to read the story before I’d seen the film. I can’t remember exactly which movie it was… probably The Empire Strikes Back. But I readily recall reading novelizations for The Last Starfighter, Tron, The Goonies, Explorers, and even a couple of Knight Rider adaptations, including the classic “Trust Doesn’t Rust” episode, which […]

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discs header i declare war

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. I Declare War A group of pre-teen boys (and one girl), some friends and some not, gather for a game of war in the back woods. Using sticks, a simple set of rules, and their endless imagination, the battle grows to include M-16s, grenades, bazookas, and more, but while all of those are allowed things soon take a dark turn. Jealousy and insecurity fuel one boy’s rage to the point where the war stops being a game. This Canadian import starts off like the perfect encapsulation of a day in the life of a twelve year old boy with its mix of physical activity and imagination-fueled violence. It becomes something more though as one of the boys begins to crack, and some of the kids enter a Lord of the Flies-like scenario built on fear and peer pressure. It’s a bit rough around the edges at times, particularly with some of the child actors, but it never lets go of its sense of fun. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries, featurettes, trailer]

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Superman and The Joker

It’s totally fine for Superman to kill people. He’s done it before, he’ll do it again, and in every instance he’ll most likely have strong reasons for doing so. Obviously this question came up over the summer when Man of Steel hit theaters, but it has sustainably permeated the cultural conversation and returned with enthusiasm now that writer David Goyer has weighed in on the subject. Fanning the flame wars of a divisive issue, it’s launched a thousand opinions from those standing their ground on why Superman (as a representation of God, or America or merely the best of the superheroes) shouldn’t take lives. The intention is understandable and powerfully compelling, but it’s still wrong.

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blackfishmovie

Welcome to my 6th annual list of halloween costume ideas. These are mostly original, yet also mostly unlikely suggestions. One thing a lot of them have in common is the fact that you’ll need to explain exactly what you are, even if there is some mainstream-recognized foundation. For example, if this was a list of costume ideas based on movies that haven’t come out yet, one might be “Justin Bieber as Robin in Batman vs. Superman.” The basic Robin uniform would probably be easily understood, but the fact that the colors have been changed to purple, white and black, and why you’ve got a mop top will require the clarification that it’s based on a casting rumor the singer made up. I’d like to preface this year’s list by saying that I feel the past 12 months have either been uninspiring compared to other years — and/or I haven’t seen the hip movies of 2013. And I didn’t bother with much from the last quarter (as in post-Halloween) titles from 2012, because they all just feel like they’re from a century ago. Seriously, if you see anyone dressed as Abraham Lincoln and mention Spielberg’s movie, you’re sure to get a reaction of “oh yeah, there was that movie.” Feel free to borrow any of the following ideas for your Halloween festivities, especially if you want something that’s a conversation starter. But you must send us pictures. And if you don’t like my suggesions but you come up with your own very […]

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Man of Steel

The folks at How It Should Have Ended have once again found the humor in a major release, this time taking aim at Superman’s latest appearance in Man of Steel. As you might remember from the time around the film’s release, there was a great deal of rumbling around the ending of Zack Snyder’s film. For one, Superman and Zod face off in the middle of Metropolis, their fight causing an immeasurable amount of damage. Experts in the field of damage assessment even went as far as to say that the fight caused upwards of $2 trillion in damages to Metropolis. There’s no arguing that such destruction is ridiculous. Then again, others have argued that it’s a mostly realistic vision of what a fight between two god-like alien beings would look like in the middle of a city the size of say, New York. Wherever you fall on Damagegate, it’s hard to argue with the questions about the necessity of having the fight in the middle of the city. This point, above all, is brought to light with a playful sense of imagination by the HISHE crew. Yes, they’ve found the answer — one that might have caused less damage, but surely would have made a less entertaining film.

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published: 10.30.2014
B-
published: 10.29.2014
D+
published: 10.27.2014
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published: 10.24.2014
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